Wimbledon: Rafael Nadal stays on course for calendar Grand Slam after opening win

Rafael Nadal makes it through to round two at Wimbledon after a hard-fought four-set battle with Argentine debutant Francisco Cerundolo; the Spaniard amassed 41 unforced errors to go with 23 winners

Last Updated: 28/06/22 7:43pm

Rafael Nadal was made to work hard to defeat Francisco Cerundolo

Rafael Nadal made it safely through to round two after a four-set battle with Argentine debutant Francisco Cerundolo at Wimbledon on Tuesday.

The Spaniard, who is on course for a calendar Grand Slam following his wins at the Australian and French Opens earlier this year, underwent radio-wave therapy on the nerve in his left foot earlier this month with his career potentially on the line after winning his 14th French Open.

The procedure seems to have been a success as Nadal was given a serious runaround by Argentine debutant Francisco Cerundolo.

But, on his first appearance at the Championships since 2019, Nadal came through in four sets, 6-4 6-3 3-6 6-4 in three hours and 33 minutes.

“After three years of not playing here I’m very happy to be back,” he said.

“The last three years I didn’t put a foot on a grass court, so it always takes a while in my first match. Every day is a test and this was an important test.

“At the beginning of the tournament and under the circumstances I arrived here, the victory is the most important thing.

“Everyone knows I had to do some things on my foot, but the most important thing is I am in Wimbledon 2022 and I won my first match!”

The Spaniard is now more than halfway towards a calendar-year Grand Slam and would become the first man to achieve it since Rod Laver in 1969 if he can add Wimbledon and the US Open to his Australian and French Opens.

Last year’s runner-up and one of the favourites for Wimbledon, Matteo Berrettini, has withdrawn from the tournament after testing positive for coronavirus.

The Italian reached his first Grand Slam final at the All England Club last summer, losing in four sets to Novak Djokovic, and has been the form player on grass this summer.

Matteo Berrettini won the Queen's Club Championships ahead of Wimbledon

Matteo Berrettini won the Queen’s Club Championships ahead of Wimbledon

After recovering from hand surgery that had ruled him out since March, Berrettini defeated Andy Murray to win an ATP tournament in Stuttgart and then successfully defended his title at Queen’s Club last weekend.

Writing on Instagram, Berrettini said: “I am heartbroken to announce that I need to withdraw from @wimbledon due to a positive COVID-19 test result.

“I have had flu symptoms and been isolating the last few days. Despite symptoms not being severe, I decided it was important to take another test this morning to protect the health and safety of my fellow competitors and everyone else involved in the tournament.

“I have no words to describe the extreme disappointed I feel. The dream is over for this year, but I will be back stronger. Thank you for the support.”

Berrettini, who has been replaced by lucky loser Elias Ymer, was the eighth seed and had been due to face Cristian Garin in the opening match on Court One on Tuesday.

His withdrawal follows that of former finalist Marin Cilic, who announced on Monday that he had also tested positive for Covid-19.

Both players were in Nadal’s half of the draw, with Cilic seeded to be his fourth-round opponent.

Unlike last year, there are no requirements on players to test or to withdraw if they do test positive, with Wimbledon following Government guidelines.

But they are expected to be respectful of those around them, and it is possible rules could be tightened if there are further positive tests.

American Reilly Opelka fired down 21 aces in his 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 6-4 victory over Carlos Taberner to move into the second round.

Grigor Dimitrov, the 18th seed, retired from his match with American Steve Johnson due to an apparent groin problem. The Bulgarian won the opening set 6-4 but was trailing 2-5 in the second when he was unable to continue.

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